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SALAMIS (săl'a-mĭs Gr. Salamis). A town on the east coast of Cyprus, founded, according to tradition, by Teucer, who was from the island of Salamis off the coast of Greece. It possessed a good harbor and was a populous and flourishing town in the Hellenic and Roman periods. Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel there in the synagogues of the Jews (Acts.13.5), showing that there was a large Jewish community in Salamis. Nothing is said of the duration or success of the visit. Paul did not return to Salamis, but Barnabas doubtless did on his second missionary journey (Acts.15.39). According to tradition he was martyred there in the reign of Nero.

SALAMIS Sǎl’ ə mǐs (Σαλαμίς, G4887). A harbor on the W coast of the island of Cyprus.

The ancient site, N of modern Famagusta, has been completely silted in by the River Pedias. According to tradition it was founded after the Trojan war by Teucer who was from the island of Salamis near Athens. However, there is archeological evidence of an earlier Mycenean settlement. It traded actively with Phoenicia, Egypt, and the E. The sources of commerce were grain, wine, olive oil, and salt.

The city is mentioned as a tributary of Assurbanipal of Assyria in 668 b.c. Assyrian influence is evident from terra cotta figures found on the site. Salamis took part in the revolt of the Ionian Greeks against Persia in the 5th and 4th centuries. Demetrius I Poliorcetes, in quest of all of Alexander’s empire, defeated Menelaus, the brother of Ptolemy I, off Salamis in 306 b.c. The Egyptians recovered the island in 295 and controlled it until M. Porcius Cato annexed it in 58 b.c. in repayment for loans made to Ptolemy Auletes. Cyprus first became part of the province of Cilicia, but in 31 b.c. it became a separate imperial province. In 22 b.c. it became a senatorial province; hence, Sergius Paulus is correctly identified as proconsul (Acts 13:7).

A large number of Jews were encouraged by the Ptolemies to settle in the city. Greatly damaged by the Jewish revolt of a.d. 116-117 and by earthquakes, it was rebuilt by Constantius II and renamed Constantia.

Paul and Barnabas, assisted by John Mark, preached in the synagogues there on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:5). From Salamis they proceeded across the island to Paphos. Barnabas was a Cypriot. His reputed tomb, discovered in a.d. 477, is located near the monastery of Ail Barnaba.

Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis (a.d. 367-402), was a strong supporter of the monastic movement and a rigorous opponent of the followers of Origen.


Oberhummer in Pauly-Wissowa, RE s. v. “Salamis 2.”

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


1. Site:

A town on the east coast of Cyprus, situated some 3 miles to the North of the medieval and modern Famagusta. It lay near the river Pediaeus, at the eastern extremity of the great plain of the Mesorea, which runs far into the interior of the island toward Nicosia (Lefkosia), the present capital. It possessed a good harbor and was the most populous and flourishing town of Cyprus in the Hellenic and Roman periods, carrying on a vigorous trade with the ports of Cilicia and Syria. Its population was mixed, consisting of Greek and Phoenician elements. The former, however, gave its tone and color to the city, and the chief cult and temple were those of Salaminian Zeus.

2. Early History:

Tradition represented Salamis as rounded soon after the fall of Troy by Teucer, the prince of Greek archers according to the narrative of the Iliad, who named it after his home, the island of Salamis off the Attic coast. In the 6th century BC it figures as an important Hellenic city, ruled by a line of kings reputed to be descended from Teucer and strengthened by an alliance with Cyrene (Herodotus iv.162). Gorgus, who was on the throne in 498 BC, refused to join the Ionic revolt against Persia, but the townsmen, led by his brother Onesilus, took up arms in the struggle for freedom. A crushing defeat, however, inflicted udder the walls of Salamis, restored the island to its Persian overlords, who reinstated Gorgus as a vassal prince (Herodotus v.103 ff). In 449 a Greek fleet under Athenian leadership defeated the Phoenician navy, which was in the service of Persia, off Salamis; but the Athenian withdrawal which followed the battle led to a decided anti-Hellenic reaction, until the able and vigorous rule of the Salaminian prince Euagoras, who was a warm friend of the Athenians (Isocrates, Euag.) and a successful champion of Hellenism. In 306 a second great naval battle was fought off Salamis, in which Demetrius Poliorcetes defeated the forces of Ptolemy I (Soter), king of Egypt. But 11 years later the town came into Ptolemy’s hands and, with the rest of the island, remained an appanage of the Egyptian kingdom until the incorporation of Cyprus in the Roman Empire (58 BC).

3. Visit of the Apostles:

When Barnabas and Paul, accompanied by John Mark, set out on their 1st missionary journey, they sailed from Seleucia, the seaport of Antioch, and landed at Salamis, about 130 miles distant, as the harbor nearest to the Syrian coast. There they preached the gospel in the "synagogues of the Jews" (Ac 13:5); the phrase is worth noting as pointing to the existence of several synagogues and thus of a large Jewish community in Salamis. Of work among the Gentiles we hear nothing, nor is any indication given either of the duration of the apostles’ visit or of the success of their mission; but it would seem that after a short stay they proceeded "through the whole island" (Ac 13:6 the Revised Version (British and American)) to Paphos. The words seem to imply that they visited all, or at least most, of the towns in which there were Jewish communities. Paul did not return to Salamis, but Barnabas doubtless went there on his 2nd missionary journey (Ac 15:39), and tradition states that he was martyred there in Nero’s reign, on the site marked by the monastery named after him.

4. Later History:

In 116 AD the Jews in Cyprus rose in revolt and massacred 240,000 Greeks and Romans. The rising was crushed with the utmost severity by Hadrian. Salamis was almost depopulated, and its destruction was afterward consummated by earthquakes in 332 and 342 AD. It was rebuilt, though on a much smaller scale, by the emperor Constantius II (337-61 AD) under the name Constantia, and became the metropolitan see of the island. The most famous of its bishops was Epiphanius, the staunch opponent of heresy, who held the see from 367 to 403. In 647 the city was finally destroyed by the Saracens. Considerable remains of ancient buildings still remain on the site; an account of the excavations carried on there in 1890 by Messrs. J. A.R. Munro and H.A. Tubbs under the auspices of the Cyprus Exploration Fund will be found in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, XII, 59-198.